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Affymetrix, BGI Ink Pact to Co-develop and Sell Arrays for Agricultural Research


By Justin Petrone

This article has been updated from a version posted Jan. 13 to include comments from Affymetrix and BGI officials.

Affymetrix and BGI last week announced a deal that will see the life sciences tool vendor and the Chinese genomics organization co-develop and co-market microarrays for agricultural applications.

The non-exclusive partnership will aim to provide a portfolio of plant, crop, and livestock microarrays for genotyping analysis, spanning applications such as marker-assisted trait selection, parentage, quality control, and traceability.

The partners will use BGI's next-generation sequencing platforms, bioinformatics capabilities, and sequencing databases to develop new content for Affy's genotyping arrays. Specifically, the collaboration will rely on data from the 1000 Plant and Animal Reference Genomes Project, initiated by BGI in 2010.

Jasmine Gruia-Gray, Affy's vice president of global marketing, told BioArray News that the firm partnered with BGI to "increase its footprint in the plant and animal genomics market." She said that arrays could be available in the second or third quarter.

BGI and Affy will co-market the resulting products, though the targeted SNP arrays will be commercialized through Affy's channels, meaning that the arrays can be run by customers in their facilities or can be run by Affy as a service, or through independent service providers that have the company's platforms, Gruia-Gray said.

BGI and Affy will also promote BGI's next-generation sequencing services together with Affy's microarrays as "complementary platforms" for plant and animal genomics researchers.

According to Gruia-Gray, this is the first time that Affy has worked with BGI. The institute already offers targeted genotyping services on Illumina BeadChips and Sequenom's MassArray platform, according to its website.

Jun Wang, BGI's executive director, said in a statement that the new collaboration with Affy will "help advance the application of genomic selection to scientists seeking to improve outcomes in breeding plants, crops, and livestock."

"We look forward to making plant and animal sequencing data more widely available to the global agricultural community," he added.

BGI spokesperson Bicheng Yang told BioArray News that the institute is in "very early-stage discussions" with Affy, and declined to further discuss the new deal.

BGI has partnered with companies on array-related projects in the past. Last August, BGI discussed a partnership with Paris-based Exonhit Therapeutics to use Exonhit's splice variant array platform, which is manufactured by Affy, to study gene deregulation and identify biomarkers in a "strategic preclinical animal model species" that both partners declined to name (BAN 8/2/2011).

Have topics you'd like to see covered in BioArray News? Contact the editor at jpetrone [at] genomeweb [.] com

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